One of these places where some masonry might remain, but the strictly private nature of the grounds it is located on doesn’t quite allow for easy exploration. I did not knock on the door of these people, as indeed I first accidentally walked around the entire area and only then noticed where this place was. Yet, I am not sure that going into the private grounds could have added much. Continue reading “Hautbois Castle”
Horsford is one of these Norfolk places which doesn’t really exist any more except in the mindset of its visitors. It would be very easy to ignore these earthworks, and to let go of what was before. Yet, the status of scheduled monuments doesn’t quite allow for this. Continue reading “Horsford Castle”
Bowes… another one of the landmark castles one can see from the A66, Bowes is less imposing than the others (Brough and Brougham Castles). Nevertheless, Bowes has a special place in my heart, and that is because it reminds me of an indomitable symbol of the Borderlands. Continue reading “Bowes Castle”
Leiden is a small city which is situated between the Old and New Rhines. The same applies to the castle there, which as the story goes, is built upon a man-made hill, and was probably originally used as an escape in case of the very same rivers flooded. Continue reading “Burcht van Leiden”
Don’t visit this place. It’s not worth it. I mean, it could be… but it isn’t.
I tried to go and take a look in December of last month during the day (it was still light) and during reasonable hours, and… — firstly, let me say that most (read: absolutely all) of this site is on private property these days, but it is a farm and there’s a road from that leads onto the main farm building which is in what (I interpreted to be) the new Claxton Manor. Continue reading “Claxton Castle”
Raveningham’s an interesting one: other than the moat, nothing remains insofar as I could see. Indeed, a modern complex is situated in the middle of the moated area though no one was home when I visited — I imagine it is not every day the occupants get asked how they like living in the middle of a moat. Continue reading “Raveningham Hall (Old)”
I am not sure I understand Mettingham. Or, at least, I wasn’t in the position to get up close and personal with all the walls and remaining towers as my poor level of research had failed to note that a street goes to the very back and probably allows some better access to the keep than the front road which I ended up using. Continue reading “Mettingham Castle”
Baconsthorpe is the gem of Norfolk, the one place I would say that everyone should (could) visit if they have the opportunity to do so. It is suitably ruined while maintaining enough of the previous encircling fortifications to create a very good impression. Continue reading “Baconsthorpe Castle”
I think Bigod Castle could be wonderful. Regrettably, I could not explore the inner courtyards as, predictably, when I visited, it was closed. Don’t visit on a November’s Sunday…
Either way, I did my best to trace a path around the castle to see what shows up. That again is not as easy as in some other places, as Bungay has grown quite close to the castle and access is limited. Furthermore, the Sunday visitation also meant that the Castle Link, connecting Bigod Castle to the Waveney and further, was also closed. This clearly makes no sense (why close a public footpath?), but one’s options at this point were limited.
Bigod looked interesting and it certainly played a part in history. Signs in the city pointed towards a rivalry with the nearby Mettingham but I am not absolutely certain about this detail. It would make sense, and Mettingham was owned by a different family.
Other than this bit, common knowledge is that Roger Bigod was the first lord of this keep though the modern structure derives from a different Roger, this time from the latter part of the 13th century, as the descendants of the original one sided with the wrong people in a revolt to the end of the 12th century and their home got demolished. The 13th century Roger was similarly disingenuous and after his death the castle slowly fell into disrepair.
None of this is admittedly particularly interesting despite the historical facts — where are the inspiring stories, and where are the important details? My only reply at this time is that I know nothing more about this site, though if I can think of anything — or visit again — I’ll let you know.
When one goes to investigate a place which no longer exists, the sense of self must be strong and rooted in the present. It would be so easy to concoct a story that reaches through millennia but grasps at all of the wrong branches and leads one in the wrong way. Or, at least, that is what I find: whatever we imagine in a place which used to exist, this should be as grounded in the reality of then as now. Could Denton have been the Norwich of today if things had been different? Who knows…
It is an interesting site and an absolute pain to get to: I found the best set of instructions on the Gatehouse site, but essentially one should park by the Darrow Green Farm and cross the field to the visible enclosure of trees. There are no National Trust signs or directions, or at least, there were none when I visited in November 2017, and one is easily liable to drive too far. Either way, making one’s way across the fields to this site is an interesting moment as the scope of the castle is not visible until the very last moments of the journey.
Naturally, nothing other than the earthworks remains at this point. The motte and bailey structure is heavily forested, which has perhaps helped its survival, but either way it is a beautiful place. Regrettably, the absence of National Trust signage also means there is no information locally about the castle, its owners, or conjecture into its usage.
The lack of this information can be appreciated for the main site, even, as the information is available online after a few quick searches. What is less available are ideas on the origin and sense of some of the other features at the site: there are two mounds of very minor stature, which can be — perhaps — identified by the descriptions at the Gatehouse site, but as it gives no distances, this cannot be confirmed. One of these two is illustrated here:
Moving on to the castle structure itself, perhaps the best sense of the motte is given by the below:
This is taken from a higher vantage point within the bailey, looking inwards to the motte area. The ditch from this side was about a metre deep, and moving on to the motte, perhaps twice that. Additionally, the outer wall of the bailey was easily traceable throughout its border making this site a very good example of theoretical motte and bailey construction — theoretical, as no masonry has survived.
Overall, these thoughts summarise my opinions on this castle, interesting as it is. I really do wish more happened at this site; as it is right now, I doubt it gets many visitors and though the local people might not appreciate the increased numbers of people on their roads, there’s a sense of history at this site which I feel more people should acquaint themselves with.